Farm finds security in Angus

Kate MatthewsCountryman

Ensuring there is enough red meat for more than 4000 prisoners across the State is a big task, but not when you see what the Pardelup Prison Farm is up to.

Glen Clode, farm manager of the Mt Barker farm, has for the past six years been building a commercial prime baby beef operation that is sought after by feedlotters.

By producing a quality product returning a market premium, the Department of Corrective Services uses the returns to purchases enough beef, usually two to three-year-old cows, to feed inmates.

The Pardelup Prison Farm, which has 80 prisoners, uses top Angus genetics and just as important is the prime lamb enterprise where lamb is sold and mutton purchased.

Any cull for age cows or ewes are sent to Karnet to be processed.

When Mr Clode started at Pardelup it was a multibreed herd, including Simmental, Charolais, Limousin and Hereford.

“There was so much variation between one breed and the other as well as calving problems that I decided to go down one path and focus on Angus,” Glen said.

“In this environment, they are tough with a good constitution and are good performers.”

Dollars per kilogram is a key focus and Mr Clode calculated it costs $1.35 a kilogram to raise a calf including fertiliser, fuel, wages, cost of the bull component, feed and freight.

“The aim is to sell a 350kg prime baby beef at a premium and use the dollars to buy cattle that are two to three years old so we can get more beef for our dollar to feed the prison population,” Glen said.

Using a traditional breeding system, Glen said 500 cows are mated in single-bull mobs in May and June using bloodlines from Mordallup, Koojan Hills and Strathtay.

“The focus on Angus is due to easier calving and temperament which is important when there are prisoners working in the cattle yards,” he said.

Bulls are selected with help from consultant Kim Tuckey to ensure the herd is heading in uniform direction.

Glen also bases his selection on the three Cs — constitution and confirmation and when put together, they ensure correctness.

Along with a prime beef enterprise, the prison farm has 2000 breeding ewes with a focus on meat and wool.

There are 500 Merino ewes mated to Border Leicesters to give first cross lambs. The ewe lamb component is mated to White Suffolks and everything else is sold to WAMMCO, Hillside and V and V Walsh.

Buying local, the Border Leicester rams are purchased from David and Lyn Slade in Kendenup and white Suffolk’s from Bruce Buswell.

Perennials are also a key part of the system.

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